The dependency of media artists on commercial software and hardware has given us Photoshopped digital images, Softimage aesthetics, and Silicon Graphics installations. To overcome the limitations inherent in such packages, and to become more flexible in their work, artists are increasingly turning to writing their own software and constructing their own digital tools.
Wiretap 4.10 features two new and internationally successful projects which show that artistic creativity in programming can achieve highly original results (software as art), without necessarily conforming to standards of
usefulness, commerciality and efficiency. In a panel discussion, researchers from universities and the V2_Lab will join them to discuss the opportunities and the restrictions of interdisciplinary and non-commercial software development.
I/O/D (by Matthew Fuller, UK): The Web Stalker
The Web Stalker is a software application for reading and manipulating information on the World Wide Web. It scans the hyperlinks on WWW-pages, displays their HTML code as the Web Stalker agent is analysing the pages, and maps the hyperlink structure in evocative graphics, allowing for a surprising look at the underside of the Web.
The Web Stalker, free to download from the I/O/D website, is a unique example of the re-visualisation of data-space at a deep level by artists. It proposes that a new, speculative engagement with software as a key locus of contemporary culture is both essential and fruitful.
Mongrel (by Graham Harwood, UK): National Heritage / Natural Selection / Heritage Gold
National Heritage is an ongoing project which commits audiences, artists and collaborators to a confrontation with their attitudes towards cultural, biological and technological racisms. As part of this larger project, Natural Selection criticises the use of new communications technology for the dissemination and organisation of various forms of eugenics, nationalism and racism. For Natural Selection, Mongrel has hacked a popular internet search engine and abducts web users who search for racist material into a parallel network of web-sites set up by Mongrel.
Heritage Gold 1.0 is a re-designed photo-software package that can be used to transform racial features and creatively adjust inbred signifiers of social status.